To the moms whose kids are grown…

0untitled-design

“Older women … are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:3-5, NIV)

I feel it acutely. There’s my mom, of course. She is an amazing, godly woman who is filled with the kind of wisdom that can only come from the years behind her. I’m lucky to have her. But other than that? There isn’t too much interaction between generations, much of the time.

Sometimes, I wonder if the lack of older mentors is the reason my generation—the generation of young parents—seems so lost. There are parenting books, of course. Online home management courses. Sermons and podcasts.

But few pour into us on a personal level.

We discuss it amongst each other—how to love our husbands, raise our children and manage our homes.

How to be self-controlled.

Pure.

Kind.

But there is something to be said for the wisdom that comes from long-life experience. Yes, we glean from those alongside us in the trenches, but we also desperately need those who have already fought our same battles and won.

(Or even lost. Because every scar tells a story.)

Last night, I drove 30 minutes down dark country roads to a complete stranger’s house. A friend had invited me. I parked on the street and stumbled up the driveway in the inky blackness, towards windows spilling warm light.

The woman who owned the house welcomed me graciously. Although her children are grown, she opens her home on a regular basis to younger homeschooling moms. Her heart—her beautiful heart—is to pour into the next generation.

Women from all over came—some drove longer distances than I did. She put out carafes of coffee, tea and dainty, floral cups. We packed into her living room to pray and learn together.

And she explained to each new, shy face how the Lord has called her to provide support, encouragement, and to live out Titus 2:3-5.

The Church needs people like this.

Older women, we need you.

We don’t always know how to say it, but we need you to open your lives to us. To open your homes to us. To offer advice. To come alongside us and tell us that we’ll make it through the hard days. To smile with us on the joy-filled days. To teach us what it means to be good wives and mothers.

You see, there’s a lot at stake.

Our families, yes. But according to Titus 2:5, how we manage our families and homes also affects people’s perception of the Word of God.

According to Titus 2:5, the gospel is at stake.

You, who are on the other side, have so much to offer.

And we, who are in the trenches, want to learn.

 

The Queen of Sparkle

IMG_20160928_163913304.jpg

“Wow, Mommy! You look just like a queen in that apron!”

Most queens, I bet, spend their afternoons makeupless and covered in splatters of a homeschool science experiment gone awry, while scrubbing a sink full of dishes in an apron. And this, of course, was just a couple of hours after disposing of a mouse that the girls insisted had been up all night. Which was why he was sleeping so soundly. In the mousetrap.

Because there’s nothing like sleeping off an all-nighter in a five-star sticky-trap.

(I’ll spare you a photo.)

My husband is on another work trip, and it has been an adventure to say the least. It usually is. The girls miss him, so I’ve been working hard to add a little more sparkle to their week while he’s away.

On Monday, that meant packing up our schoolwork and trekking through the rain to the coffee shop down the street. The kids spread out their books on a large table in front of the huge windows and watched the downpour while cozily munching on treats and finishing all of their least favourite subjects in record time.

Donuts for the win.

img_20160926_185157894

That evening, once everyone finished dinner, I moved the coffee table out of the living room and spread out a picnic blanket. The girls brought their pillows, blankets and stuffies downstairs and we watched a movie and ate ice cream.

Yesterday, we did our schoolwork on the living room floor and then played board games on the rug. When my husband heard about how much fun we’ve been having with the extra space, he texted to suggest that we get rid of the coffee table permanently.

My husband is a keeper. The coffee table is toast.

IMG_20160927_103738.jpg

Today, we made popcorn. And a volcano. I’m still picking pieces of plaster out of my hair and we haven’t even erupted it yet. But hey, nothing says sparkle like popcorn and plaster volcanoes, right?

Of course, all this extra pizzazz doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten impatient.

Or yelled once or twice.

Or locked myself in the bathroom.

Or hidden under a pile of blankets (on the bed that I forgot to make) while desperately praying that no one would find me. They did in all of 0.003 nanoseconds.

There have been sibling wars, spills and paint on the kitchen floor. The bathroom cupboard broke and there was that incident with the mouse. And my four-year old may or may not have called Grandma yesterday to ask if she could move there. But I think that’s all the more reason to search for ways to make each day a little more fun.

After all, it’s the queen’s job to make things sparkle and they’ve dubbed me the queen—apron and all. In true homeschool-mom style, the girls even made me a neon pink sentence-strip crown.

IMG_20160928_163534441.jpg

So sparkle we shall.

Here’s hoping your week sparkles too.

xo

 

Evening Meanderings

000DSCN0471.jpg

The day is long. They often are. Being home with my girls—homeschooling them—is a huge privilege. And yet, I have to be honest.

It’s hard.

I don’t often admit that. I try to make it look easy. The truth is, as much as I love it, this is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Things worth doing usually are.

Today is particularly trying. I meet opposition at every turn and I’m exhausted.

My husband arrives home just the girls are finishing dinner, and I am out the door in a flash. I push aside a twinge of guilt—the niggling feeling that I should be doing something more meaningful with my time. I remind myself: You can’t give when you’re empty. Tonight, I’m empty. And besides, the whole reason I’m going out is to meet up with someone who can help.

And I know just where I’m going to find some uninterrupted time with Him.

000DSCN0393

I park the car at the end of a gravel road. The sun is beginning to set and the woods are bathed in the early evening glow. I grab my camera and begin to walk. A narrow side trail leads through a bed of ferns and into the bush, and I carefully pick my way over protruding roots and rocks. At the end of the path, nestled in a small valley, is a stream.

000DSCN0350

000DSCN0373

I crouch beside a fallen tree and watch gray field slugs feast on mushrooms. Some might find this repulsive, but I’m intrigued. I learn later that some slugs solely subsist on fungi during certain stages of their development. Nature is a fascinating thing.

000DSCN0370.jpg

I go back to the main path, past the frog pond and towards the meadow. Another side trail leads to a bench overlooking the valley and the view leaves me breathless.

000DSCN0377.jpg

000DSCN0395.jpg

0000RSCN0424.jpg

A little further on, in another meadow, three deer eye me suspiciously. I stop to stare back. I’m in no hurry.

000DSCN0447.jpg

As the sun slinks behind the horizon, dusk emerges bold. Something dark flaps low across the path. It lands on a branch and I peer through the thicket to see what it could be. An owl. I watch until it flies away.

The air fills with the yips and howls of coyotes—the music of the night. I slowly make my way back to the car, rested.

I’ve done what I’ve come here to do. I’ve met the One I’ve been seeking.

000DSCN0392

These days, I often find myself scrambling over rocks, pushing my way through tall meadow grasses and wandering deep in the woods.  I often find myself needing this change of scenery—time away, just me and Jesus. No little feet creaking down the stairs when I’m trying to pray in the early morning. No demands or pressures. Just uninterrupted time with the One who can soothe away the frustrations of the day. Here, in nature, I see reflections of His glory. Here, He speaks to the deep places.

Through silken spider strands glistening in the sun, He whispers.

000DSCN0385.jpg

Through the ebony jewelwing that rests on a cool, green leaf, He whispers.

000RSCN0167.jpg

Through the forest carpeted with flowers, He whispers.

000DSCN0158.jpg

Each of these things, a gift from a Father who longs to draw close. Each of these things, a whisper of love. Love expressed through beauty.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20)

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1)

I come home and my heart is full. I’ve met Jesus.

And I’m ready to give again.

zzDSCN0659.jpg

0000DSCN0468

 

 

Do I Have What it Takes? Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

Do I havewhat it takes-
Image courtesy of FreeImages.com/Cynthia Turek

It was a full-blown tantrum. A messy outburst replete with yelling and tears.

I don’t act like a two-year old often, but when I do, I do it well.

I had been talking to my husband about homeschooling—about character, of all things. “I’m just not a good enough mom to do this!” I wailed. “How am I supposed to raise children who love Jesus when I make so many mistakes? I’m not the one for this job. We should send the kids back to Christian school as soon as we can.”

I had attended the first day of a local homeschooling conference and had come home feeling completely overwhelmed. The tears flowed and, with them, the accusations.

“Why can’t I be like the other homeschooling moms in the church—who have it all together?  What craziness made me think that I could ever do this?”

Then, in the middle of the storm inside, I remembered. There is an enemy of our souls who wants to attack us where we are weakest. He wants to fill us with doubt. If he can convince us that we’ll fail, we will simply give up, and we will never see the purposes of God fulfilled in our lives or in the lives of our children.

I stopped short and turned to my husband. “I’m so sorry. I need to pray.” As he and I spent the next few minutes taking authority over every lie and speaking the truth of God’s Word into our situation, a peace began to settle over my spirit. Still, I couldn’t completely shake the question: Do I have what it takes? 

The next day was the second day of our local homeschooling conference. Lord, speak to me today, my heart cried. I need deep-down reassurance. I need truth.

From the very first session, the Lord’s voice was loud and clear. The speaker, Louise House, was an older woman, a seasoned homeschooler with a curriculum distribution company—someone with years of wisdom to offer.

“Since Adam, there has never been another you,” she told us. “Your family is a rare jewel. God has ordained and given you the children that you have. He has placed you as their parents. It is not a mistake that He has brought you together as a family.”

I fought back tears. Oh how desperately I needed this reminder! When God knit my girls together in my womb, He knew what He was doing. He gave those children to me because He knew that I had something to offer those girls that no one else in all of history could offer!

12186273_10153635134081368_2298766515874314613_o

And then this: “God doesn’t look for people who have it all together. He called Noah to build a boat when Noah had never even seen a boat. If God calls you, He will make a way for you.”

Later that afternoon, Jonathan Lewis, editor of Home School Enrichment magazine, spoke about raising world-changers. “There are people we can’t reach that our children can reach,” he said. “Our children are arrows. We don’t launch an arrow into battle before it’s equipped, but once it has been prepared, we launch it. And when we shoot it out, it reaches places we can’t reach. Our children will go out and bring about God’s purposes in their own time and place.”

I’ve heard similar wording before—a word given to me many years ago, before I had even met the amazing man who I would one day wed: “You are a bow. … God is taking His time to prepare you. Someday, God will bring along the right guy and he will be a bow right next to you. And together, you will shoot people into the bulls-eye of the purposes of God for their lives.”

I had asked the Lord to speak to me, and there was no doubt that He was speaking, reminding me of my calling—my destiny. Life gets messy and I make mistakes. Lots of them. But walking shoulder to shoulder with my husband and raising our girls? I was born for this.

It’s so easy, as parents and as homeschoolers, to focus on all the ways that we fail our children every day. After all, there are many. But God has called us to this and He will enable us to grow, mature and succeed. As Louise House put it, “God knows what we need, how we can endure, and how to grow us to be more like Him. There is nothing beyond Him.”

Never have I been so encouraged.

When we walk in the will of the Lord and according to His Word, there is only one possible outcome, and that is to accomplish all that He has called us to do. You see, the question is not, “Do I have what it takes?” The question is, “Does He have what it takes?”

And the answer to that is a resounding YES!